Lieutenant Gov. Gregg winds up in Traer for economic development tour

T-R PHOTO BY RUBY F. MCALLISTER Iowa Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, center, pictured with Tama County Economic Development Executive Director Katherine Ollendieck, left, and Traer Mayor Pete Holden, right, last Friday outside the Traer Public Library during Gregg’s downtown tour.

TRAER — Last Friday just ahead of 5 p.m., Iowa Lt. Governor Adam Gregg stopped by Traer’s downtown for a quick tour courtesy of Tama County Economic Development Executive Director Katherine Ollendieck.

His first stop was the public library.

“This is just one of the prettiest libraries in our state,” Ollendieck said as Gregg was greeted by Library Director Diane Panfil. “This one is an anchor for downtown.”

After speaking with Panfil for a few moments and learning more about the many offerings available through the small town library, Gregg headed outside into the cold wind for a tour of several other Traer destinations including the Salt and Pepper Shaker Gallery, Whannel’s Hardware which recently became the only authorized Verizon dealer in the county, Simply Blooming floral shop, Retro Rooster antique shop, and La Terraza Mexican Grill and Seafood.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Ollendieck said, Traer businesses and other entities including the library have been awarded roughly $90,000 combined in American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARPA) but that “those funds are gone now” following a two year disbursement process by the county.

Currently, La Terraza is in the midst of expanding its footprint at 602 Second St. into the adjacent building to its west — the former MEMBERS1st Community Credit Union building — using a combination of MEMBERS1st assistance, anticipated grant funding, and the restaurant’s own funds.

“He will have to invest more than a couple hundred thousand dollars,” Ollendieck said of the restaurant’s owner.

In January of 2023, Ollendieck asked the Traer City Council to apply for an Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Community Catalyst Building Remediation Program grant on behalf of La Terraza’s owners in order to rehabilitate the upper story housing of both the former MEMBERS1st building and the restaurant’s current building.

Unfortunately, Ollendieck said during Gregg’s visit, the Catalyst grant did not work out.

“The upstairs apartment is really rough,” Ollendieck explained, “He might think about [renovating the apartment] down the road … When you fix old buildings you find unexpected things.”

Ollendieck also provided an update on the Wind Up Lounge’s planned expansion into the empty lot to its east.

Again, Ollendieck said, rehabbing an old building was proving trickier than anticipated, while also pointing to supply chain issues as part of the delay.

“They keep finding things [they need to work through],” Ollendieck said of work at Wind Up Lounge. “We’ve had all kinds of supply chain issues throughout the county, from north to south.”

Prior to leaving the library and heading down the street to the Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery, Gregg asked about Matchstick Marvels in Gladbrook and its similarity to the gallery, to which Ollendieck said seeing visitors wind up in multiple Tama County communities while they visit the area is the ultimate goal.

“We lost our restaurant in Gladbrook,” Ollendieck said of Gladbrook’s now shuttered Spanky’s Restaurant and Catering. “It’s been nice to have the marriage [between Matchstick Marvels and the Salt & Pepper Shaker Gallery].”


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